The Blake Robinson Synthetic Orchestra…

Another recent musical discovery of mine is Blake Robinson and his Synthetic Orchestra. While doing a magnificent job of demonstrating what can be achieved without the cost and hassle of recording an orchestral performance, the arrangements, orchestrations and compositions Blake produces are enjoyable. His speed is particularly impressive, with a considerable discography dating back only to 2010. The best part though, is that Blake gives a lot of details about the sample libraries he uses and how he achieves particular sounds, allowing us all to benefit from his knowledge (while likely benefiting him, considering the fact that he’s a sample library developer by day). Below, you can find a variety of his work, including both original items and items based on and/or inspired by existing music. You’ll notice that he has a bias towards music from games.

Adventures in your sleep

Portal – Still Alive at the Orchestra

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Les Misérables…

How could I be going through composers and musicians in the run-up to Christmas without mentioning the upcoming Les Misérables film? Currently due for release on the 13th of January in the UK, it looks to me like it will be fantastic and do the corresponding musical justice.

It is the first such musical film to record the vocals live, on set (i.e. as the actors and actresses are acting), with piano accompaniment being provided via ear pieces – the orchestra was recorded in post production. Previously, films of this nature involved the recording of the vocals months in advance of filming in a recording studio, with the actors and actresses later syncing to their recordings while acting. The idea behind this change is to allow greater and more appropriate expression of emotion in the singing itself. Certainly, in the extracts released so far, it looks like use of this technique has paid off.

The recently released trailer below demonstrates many of the main characters and their themes – I hope you enjoy it. 🙂

Str8voices…

Str8voices is a a cappella octet formed in 2008 (and possibly of German Venezuelan origin), that recently released its first CD. It also recently uploaded its first few videos to YouTube, which is how it caught my eye – I find its arrangement of Over The Misty Mountains Cold (based on the song in the original trailer for The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey), intriguing. Check it out in the video below.

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Quattrocelli…

Quattrocelli is a group made up of four cellists (hence the name) who play a mix of traditional and more modern music. An unusual ensemble, they have a unique sound and have been known to employ some unorthodox techniques, somewhat similar to Steven Sharp Nelson of The Piano Guys. My favourite example of them would have to be this performance of One Day and He’s A Pirate (from Pirates of the Caribbean: At World’s End and Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl respectively).

I’d recommend checking them out if you like their style – you can find more of their music here.

On a related note, the Cambridge University Orchestra on the Hill recently performed medleys from a range of films among my favourites for soundtracks, and I would recommend checking them out if you ever find yourself in the right place at the right time (especially considering the price).

You’ll hopefully be pleased to know that I have a few more posts in progress, highlighting interesting musicians and composers that you may not yet have heard of – perhaps inspiration for some Christmas gifts! If you’re looking to get an early present, Two Steps from Hell have very recently released Skyworld – a rare public album by them, and certainly worth the wait. Music by them was played at at least two Cambridge May Balls this year!